Looking further into the nature of “technique” (diary entry)

One type of Side control

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We began with a series of specific warm-up exercises performed on the move and on the spot. These included straight punching, sprawling, covering, transitioning ranges, knee strikes, elbows, hooks, uppercuts, bridging into side control and guard, squat kicking front, side and round, and combinations.


We then went straight into stand-up combination. This worked off basic slips into knee strikes and the clinch. Then we covered the headlock counters, leading to a takedown and an armbar.


Today’s observation was on the superficiality of technique. It seems a weighty subject for children, but the CCMA approach has its base on building upon natural individual physical responses and it is something I teach from day one. So when we do move into attribute training, which is what makes up the regular weekly sessions now (pure self protection/self defence is generally reserved for the regular workshops), it is important that techniques are more than learnt; they are understood. Being a slow learner in the martial arts, I often found it confusing from when one next lesson to the next when a complex technique was taught and then I didn’t come close to using it in the sparring. This helped me develop methods for teaching that acknowledged the misleading or distracting parts of techniques. It’s not particularly revolutionary to say things like position before submission or learn the drill, master the drill, forget the drill, but I often feel that little more than lip service is paid by most students. We need to work to get the message across.


My current theme with the headlock comes from my observations that too many students still relied upon it in sparring. Perhaps you don’t see them that often in MMA because of the way BJJ and submission grappling have all but stamped them out. This is despite wrestling making good use of them for centuries and the traditional scarf-hold still being a mainstay in the jacketed grappling art of judo. Both sports have a standing in amateur sports that has been long envied by most other combat sports – they both have had their position in the Olympics and World Games for a long time. This would imply that they know a thing or two about competition and evolve accordingly. There are strong arguments against the use of the headlock in grappling, which I have outlined several times before, but it is a primal grappling move and I think it important for students to understand how to defeat this simple move.


So, we first dilled taking the back from the early part of the headlock, putting over the point to look at the move in the same way one gets the underhook. We trained the movement of this for many reps to get the behaviour response down pat. Then as we looked at a more serious situation from the headlock and the counter that ended in the armbar, we looked at key leverage points and before this we looked at positioning. This still isn’t deep enough. An average novice student will eventually get that it is important to stay close, establish a waistlock and, most importantly, keep a strong deep stance in response to a tight headlock. They will also get that you need to pop the shoulder through when you reach over to push the head away and push your head back in order to break the posture of your opponent. Hooking the leg under the knee follows pretty easily in order to complete the unbalancing act that finishes in side control, knee pin and the armbar. However, what most instructors don’t tell you is that the whole process can be pretty uncomfortable. Faith in being able to get out of this pretty basic move is shaken by the suffocating feeling and the apparent strength of your opponent. However, being able to keep your composure by understanding that only a small detail separates you from turning the tables can be the key to success.   


The lesson finished with MMA sparring and a discussion on the grading at the end of the month. We will cover more self defence drills next lesson and personal security discussions in conjunction with the MMA.

DON'T MISS: Vagabond Warriors IV, martial arts cross training workshop for all abilities, at St. Nicholas School, Kenilworth 12pm – 3pm on Saturday 25th June 2011.

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